How the Trump Revolt Was Funded

EDITORS NOTE: The below is over-simplified, but it helps me make an important point. I simply lack the resources and the energy to dig deeper. I’ll leave that to somebody else. The charts were made from IRS data.

Now that Joe Biden is being sworn in as President, it’s time to turn our attention to preventing another attempted take over of the U.S. Government by an authoritarian ignoramus downstream. That effort needs to begin with the IRS and the tax-exempt organizations who funded the Trump menace from the get-go and even paid travel expenses for the mob that stormed the Capital Building on January 6.

It begins with my old boss Pat Robertson and the mixing of politics with religion in the early 1980s. Pat ran for President in 1988, during an IRS Criminal Investigative Division investigation into criminal activity under our tax exemption. They had us nailed cold, but the investigation was halted when Pat threw his support to then Vice-President George H.W. Bush. I can’t prove it, but it’s my belief that Pat cut a deal with Bush to drop the investigation in trade for Pat’s support of Bush at the Republican Convention.

Years later, after Bill Clinton took office, the investigation was reopened, and CBN lost its tax exemption for the years 1986 and 1987 and paid a significant fine. That was followed by a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that CBN had broken FEC laws regarding campaign contributions. That fine was nearly $400,000.

The IRS allows very little political activity among those benefitting from this particular tax exemption. However, Anne Nelson’s brilliant book Shadow Network reveals the depth of the tax exempt organizations working under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, itself a tax exempt organization. These are almost entirely made up of 501©3 groups.

This graph represents organizations filing IRS form 990 between 1988 and 2017. There is a significant drop-off that occurred during the 2008 banking crisis, when it appears a number of organizations simply quit. The number of returns rebounded, but the interesting revelation here is that the fastest growing group in terms of sheer assets is found with those whose assets are over $50 million, an indication that the wealthiest charitable organizations are the ones growing.

Overall, the number of groups filing returns under the 501©3 designation has exploded over the last 40 years, but what’s really staggering in studying IRS data is the growth in total assets reported by these organizations. Here, the blue line represents the number of tax returns (which has gone from roughly 100,000 in 1985 to 300,000 by 2015), and the orange line represents total assets of those groups.

Clearly, the growth here represents a couple of things. One, the wealthy are increasingly hip to how tax-exempt foundations, for example, can be used to save/hide their otherwise taxable income. Two, those on the political right — the extreme political right — have used their tax-exempt statuses to raise money for their causes. Many of these groups use the “education” exemption to hide their real intent, which was and remains the overthrow of the U.S. Government in favor of some form of Christian Nation.

It’s scary how close they came.

But, now it’s time to pay for their illegal activities, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

After Tuesday

So, here we are on the eve of what’s been billed as the most important Presidential election of our lifetimes. Anybody who claims to “know” how tomorrow is going to end is a fool, but I must say that it sure feels like a walloping is at hand. Of course, your view likely is based on your sources of information, but an electorate that feels it made a mistake four years ago, is not about to perpetuate that error.

I not only believe that Joe Biden will win in a landslide, but also the Senate will be flipped, for to run locally as a Trump sycophant makes for really crappy and creepy local advertising, as witnessed here in Alabama with Tommy Tuberville’s attempts to paint Doug Jones as a liberal, anti-gun, pro-abortion monster. It just doesn’t work anymore, because the electorate has become hip to such manipulation and wants to see and hear about new and creative thinking in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t care about our artificial government made up of big corporate interests and nothing else. Hardcore liberalism isn’t going to do the trick either, so what comes next is going to be very interesting for an old observer like me.

Democrats must think carefully about their next moves, because the machine that created “President” Trump in the first place (The Council for National Policy-CNP) will simply reload with a more mainstream-approved candidate next time. Unless, that is, we do something about it.

Therefore, I’m going to take advantage of this “day before” status to do a little forward thinking. Assuming a Biden victory, here are things I see ahead.

  • There will be a significant sigh of relief, which will likely result in a season of inertia at a time when significant action will be required. America is worn and weary, and we just want to rest. We must guard against this, because the real work of redefining America is going to take a Herculean effort.
  • The struggle to reclaim the brand “Christianity” will be ongoing, because Trump’s right-wing church leaders will blame Trump the person for losing. They will continue to press their causes, which are mostly found in the bedrooms of the country.
  • Biden and the Democrats must resist trying to resolve all of the problems created by the previous right wing government and work instead on efforts to prevent it from ever happening again. This America will support.
  • Biden’s first year will his most fertile in terms of getting anything serious done, and the danger will be in attempts to force putting everything back together in order to satisfy his coalition.
  • American business will be painted as the victim of an anti-capitalist plot by the left.
  • Regardless of any perceived mandate from the election, the right will deploy whatever weapons they have to create a stand still government until they can groom their candidate for 2024. It won’t be Mike Pence.
  • The wealthy will throw everything they have at maintaining their grip on the culture, including damage to our economy that they will blame on the socialist left.
  • The media will still be unable to stay away from Trump.
  • The National Debt MUST be attributed to the right and Trump’s corporate welfare. Somebody has to pay for all that greed, and that will likely be us. After all, that debt is ours.
  • The most important agenda item for Biden would be reformation of the tax exemption laws that will prevent the kind of right wing mischief of the CNP and the religious right. Politics should not be a tax exempt enterprise.
  • We will need to produce an effort that keeps Trump’s damage front and center. I promise the right is working on media strategies that will frame a narrative that Trump was the problem, not the ideology of the right. We must reframe that to marry Trump and the GOP, that without each other, they couldn’t have done the damage that they did.
  • I maintain my belief that the scent of victory supplied by the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett is enough to pause the pro-life movement’s energy.
  • The silk stockings need to be seen as a curse on freedom, not the blessing thereof. In 1646, John Milton wrote his Sonnet 12 as a part of his writings on divorce. It very well frames the big issue with the haves, and I’d like to see us find a way to use it. The most famous line from this poem is “License they mean when they cry liberty” — referring to the absolutism of the church and those elites who benefit from it. They want a form of licentiousness (freedom from all restrictions) instead of democratic freedom, which includes responsibility. Straightening out this difference contemporarily must be given our attention.
  • We should also not be afraid to acknowledge America’s anger with corporations.
  • News organizations must continue to investigate everything that’s happened over the last four years, for, as NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller wrote in the introduction of the new edition of Edward Bernays book Propaganda, “…the investigative journalist is the propagandist’s natural enemy, as the former serves the public interest, while the latter tends to work against it.”

This is a very incomplete list, but I hope you can see where I think the focus should be — on preventing another Trump from ever getting near the White House.

Winning tomorrow is just the beginning.

Propaganda’s Waste Product: Betrayal

The pain of betrayal… – Fuel for the journey

The U.S. economy is in shambles as the Covid19 virus continues to ravage cities and rural places across the country. Millions are out of work, many losing hope that they’ll ever get back to the way it was before the virus, before Donald Trump. The “how” of this is self-evident, but the “why” is disguised by layer upon layer of propaganda that has been fed to America over the last forty years. If you’re able to get far enough away from these trees, so that the forest becomes visible, it’s pretty easy to see that this has happened to us, because the right is obsessed with making the rich even richer.

That is its only cause.

Any government individual, program, or policy that existed to provide a check on the power of the super rich has been severely reduced or eliminated. The dangerous isolation of the nationalism that has arisen has made us a laughing stock in a global community that includes business arrangements with foreign powers. Bringing in cabinet members from the very industries they are designed to oversee has taken authority away from a government designed to keep an eye out for mischief within the private sector.

Our world is a mess, and we know it. Now, we stand at the edge of new beginning, assuming the chief author of this mess is shunned by American voters. Trump will (rightly) be the whipping boy for all of the palpable anger in our midst, but there’s another actor in all of this that will take center stage as we try to manage our way out of the chaos we feel, and that’s how we prevent this from ever happening again.

We’re going to have to find a way to trust each other again, for our entire way of life depends on it. And, before we can get there, we have to deal with the propaganda campaign that led us here in the first place. The first amendment has been so abused as to have had its teeth completely removed through a calculated series of lies and other fallacies that have successfully created a narrative within which a politicized press can function as mainstream.

Most people understand that propaganda is skewed information, a.k.a. lies, in a form designed to fool people into believing a certain way and acting on it. It is highly pejorative in our world, because nobody likes to be thusly fooled and manipulated.

And, the discovery that one has been duped leads to an angry and justifiable defense: profound feelings of betrayal. Betrayal is a powerful waste product of propaganda, and its nature as a long-lasting emotional response is sufficient to change the world

Betrayal leaves behind all sorts of ugliness that impacts our social and cultural lives. An academic paper in the National Library of Medicine describes betrayal thusly:

“Betrayal is the sense of being harmed by the intentional actions or omissions of a trusted person. The most common forms of betrayal are harmful disclosures of confidential information, disloyalty, infidelity, dishonesty. They can be traumatic and cause considerable distress. The effects of betrayal include shock, loss and grief, morbid pre-occupation, damaged self-esteem, self-doubting, anger. Not infrequently they produce life-altering changes. The effects of a catastrophic betrayal are most relevant for anxiety disorders, and OC D and PTSD in particular.”

Betrayal begins with trust, and once that is broken, it becomes a long-lasting influence on those for whom the trust was revealed to be foolish in the first place. Those who’ve been so broken aren’t likely to give themselves over to such manipulation in the future.

“Stab the body and it heals,” wrote famous Japanese Geisha Mineko Iwasaki, “but injure the heart and the wound lasts a lifetime.” Or, as Arthur Miller noted, “Betrayal is the only truth that sticks.” This lasting legacy is why propaganda is a fatal wound for those manipulated, and this will come to light in the years ahead, as people grapple with the full extent of the political manipulation of the late 20th Century and early 21st Century.

The white evangelical church, for example, has betrayed its members in adding politics to the gospel, and that’s not going to end well for anybody. The church has given up its rightful place as salt and light in the community in order to obtain a Supreme Court they believe will have their backs in perpetuity. Rather than let God work through them, these deceived ministers and pastors have cast their lot with the super rich and the bearing of false witness in order to get what they want for themselves. The court is now 6–3 in favor of big business and corporations, but starry-eyed Christians think it’s all about them, abortion, and their “religious freedom”.

This is a betrayal of the first magnitude, and repentance and pleading for forgiveness are the only way out. This is unlikely, however, because these propagandists are soundly yoked to the rich and powerful. Nevertheless, it’s not something the church will get over anytime soon.

When the church plays the end-times theme, rest assured there’s a string attached, and it’s directly tied to the business model of the church, for its core competency rests in producing a herd of well-behaved denizens. The truth is that nobody knows the day or time of the end, and to postulate its nearness has been the propaganda of religious charlatans for centuries. After all, if the end is near, then its necessary to assure one’s place in the afterlife, for the saving one’s own ass for eternity has been the self-centered nature of Christian evangelicalism from the beginning.

The deals cut between these church leaders and their political puppet masters were made in dark, secret places, behind closed doors where nobody was watching (see Anne Nelson’s powerful book Shadow Network for some light on the subject). The high calling of caring for the poor and the afflicted has been replaced by a licentious thirst for power, riches, and influence under the sun. As Jesus said about such, “They have their reward,” which ought to send shivers down the backs of those under their counsel.

Propagandists will head for the shadows when discovered, as the 52 Republican Senators did after ramrodding a pro-big business advocate to the Supreme Court earlier this week. The GOP has always stood for the rich, and it’s amazing how many of those barely making ends meet have voted against their own interests in favor of alignment with the wealthy. How could this possibly have happened? Through the lesser of two evils fallacy and propaganda that positioned the GOP as having all the right answers for everybody, especially those poor unborn babies that socialist-liberals were killing left and right.

Did the Jews feel betrayed by the people of Europe who remained silent as they were marched to the Nazi death camps? Do the people dying of the lung complications brought on my smoking feel betrayed by the big business of tobacco? Do Palestinians feel betrayed from guarantees made to them in the beginning regarding Zionism? Do Native Americans feel betrayed by white invaders? Then there are the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, both guilty of the most heinous forms of abuse and betrayal.

The use of propaganda to take the place of serious journalism is perhaps the greatest national propaganda betrayal of modern times, for in crying “fake news,” professional manipulators representing the political right have planted just enough false evidence to make it stick. There is little argument that this false witness was milked by the GOP as a way to maintain their influence over those being manipulated. It’s very hard to craft sound bites that disprove this particular piece of propaganda, because the press has been the thorn in the side of the ruling elites for at least the last century.

There are those who will argue that Donald Trump was the bad actor in all of this, and that once he’s gone, everything will be tickety-boo. However, Trump would not be President were it not for the secret labor of those wishing to overthrow the checks and balances that governed the engine of big business. This included the dominant role of white evangelicals in playing the religious liberty card ad nauseam while trying to force the culture into submission under their watchful eyes.

The church provides a colorful side show that draws attention away from greed of the one percent. Who cares, for example, that the rich are oppressing the poor when the lives of the unborn are at stake?

Finally, I have to say that, as a student of the Bible, God is not at all impressed with those who practice propaganda in order to gain worldly power and influence. This was the oppressive sin of the Scribes and Pharisees that Jesus railed against at every turn. Old Testament prophets would look across the ravages of Covid19 and insist it was a response of God to sin, but that is completely lost on people today. Today’s God is the same One we’ve always had, and, trust me on this, He is NOT happy with what has been done in His name repeatedly over the last 40 years.

As surely as I’m sitting here at my computer, God is judging this behavior, for He has no place with the propaganda of today or the betrayal that some will doubtless blame on Him. If betrayal has any redeeming quality, it’s that it can be a powerful motivator for change.

And that’s where we are today.

Pat Robertson’s Veil

Let’s take a little journey through Pat Robertson’s mind in the wake of his prophetic proclamation of a Trump reelection, war involving Israel, peace for awhile, followed by an asteroid strike, and then the end of everything. Even for Pat, this is a stretch, and I’ve heard from friends that say “he needs to get off the air.”

As if that would ever happen.

Pat “sees” things through a complex but reliable veil, that he and his ilk are the Biblical “sons of Issachar, men with knowledge of the times.” However, that veil includes Republican Party talking points, because Pat is first a politician, secondly a television preacher of some acclaim. He feels, as an apostle for the current times, that he can interpret and proclaim by clipping together various parts of the Bible to create — as Disney used to say — the plausible impossible when it comes to commentary on current events. This was the entire basis for the work we did in the early 80s in developing a propaganda-based narrative that we alone could see and therefore “interpret and report” as a news organization. We were “TV Journalism With A Different Spirit.”

I can tell you from experience that he is being quite sincere in that this Trump/asteroid scenario is the only one that works vis-a-vis his veil. After all, he’s talking about God, his view of God orchestrating everything, so that it “makes sense” to him and his followers.

It ought to scare the crap out of Americans that a man like this has the ear of the President of the United States.

These proclamations from the mountain top were a regular feature of my daily life as Executive Producer of The 700 Club in the early and mid 80s. In 1984, for example, he looked downstream and prophesied “deep darkness and trouble” for America “towards the end of the year.” And what was happening at the end of the year? Ronald Reagan was running for reelection.

This era of evangelical messaging about the end times began in 1948 with the return of the Jews to the Holy Land through the political movement known as Zionism. Through Pat’s veil, this could mean only one thing: that God was preparing the world for the return of Jesus Christ. Hence, the relentless pounding the self-centered message of salvation to everybody and the creation of a set of evangelical rules that demanded Christians participate or run the risk of losing their salvation and be damned for eternity.

It’s a powerful manipulator of good people and not-so-good people.

So, what are we to do?

Pat was quick to point out the words of Jesus, who said in Matthew 24 that no human will ever know the date and the hour that the end comes. Pat glossed over it in acknowledging that he could be wrong. But here’s the thing. God isn’t stupid. Life knows that it has to be so in order to prevent the self-centered manipulation that would likely come out of letting anybody in on the secret.

Evangelical Christianity of the sort practiced by Pat Robertson and his clan is doing exactly that politically. Christians fearful of going to hell simply pass along what they’ve been told, because the threat against them is that they’ll miss out on all the fun associated with the Rapture and smiling at their “unbelieving” friends as they pass them by on their way to Heaven.

Thus, the message is one of well-produced superstition and unprovable proclamations, all stemming from a man who himself wanted to be President. I was at the meeting in the board room of CBN where Pat first told us he was running. He said that God had told him to run and that he would win. It was the only possible “Biblical” conclusion to what he was being “told”, right?

Once again, Pat is counting on his “gifts” to guide a narrative that makes sense to him but challenges those who still are able to think for themselves.

Christianity has its own God/man to stand between believers and a vengeful God in order to prevent his Father from destroying everything. At least that’s what we’re taught.

His name is Jesus Christ, not Pat Robertson.

Deconstructing the “Vote for Trump” Arguments of the Christian Right

James Dobson may be a good preacher, but he’s a lousy human being for “leading” his flock astray in the name of what he believes to be a higher calling.

In case you missed it, Dobson has sent a lengthy letter to his followers to help justify them voting for Donald Trump in November, despite the relentless bombardment of the foul wind that has soured even the air we breathe every day of his “administration.” (Ed Note: you can find a link to the actual letter within the reference I’ve provided, but I will not link to it directly myself.)

There’s his total botching of the virus, his secret dealings with the Russians, his self-centeredness at the cost of hurting others, his lies about immigration, his tax boon to the 1%, the spectacular increase in the national debt, his disdain for people whose skin color isn’t white, his attacks on the mainstream press, his violation(s) of the Emoluments Clause of our Constitution, his unstable mental state, the fact (yes, fact) that he’s intellectually challenged, and most of all, that he’s a loser and always has been, a snake-oil salesman from the Wayback Machine.

And yet, here is Dobson — one of the Christian Right’s most beloved leaders — telling us that none of it matters, that he needs our votes, so that Dobson and those of his ilk can fully overthrow the U.S. Government and take control of the United States on behalf of Jesus. Don’t believe me? Read Anne Nelson’s powerful book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right and argue with her documentation of this Christian Conspiracy.

I’ve got to be honest here. This is the greatest threat to the wellbeing of the U.S. since the Civil War. Here’s just one section of Dobson’s rhetoric:

Disengaged people won’t lift a finger to preserve this great land. They won’t take even a few minutes to go to their polling places to vote. There are also thousands of pastors who won’t allow voting registration tables in the lobbies of their churches. Don’t they know or care that America is on the ropes? Hordes of angry anarchists are salivating over the next election, hoping to push America over a cliff. If they succeed, as Newt Gingrich said, Western civilization will never recover. Is there anyone left who believes some things are worth dying for?

This kind of language is highly manipulative, for it begins with a false witness, that America is on the ropes with “hordes of angry anarchists” salivating over the next election. Seriously?

People smarter than him and with more money than him are taking advantage of this entire shadow government that the Christian Right has been plotting and building. These Silk Stockings really don’t give a ripple chip about what’s contained in Dobson’s apologetic; they just need their votes. I promise you, this will not end well for those who believe as Dobson does.

So let’s examine the “seven critical issues” that Dobson uses as justification for voting, once again, to keep a damaging reprobate in office.

The Next Generation — This is number one, because it fits his narrative. Moreover, it tickles the ears of his older followers, and he knows that they care deeply about their progeny and their legacy. What better way to hook people than to talk about their children and grandchildren in light of that which hasn’t happened yet. James Dobson may think himself a prophet, but lies like this are certainly NOT prophecy.

“Make no mistake, the left and secular culture are manipulating the minds of your sons and daughters every day of the year.”

With respect, Dr. Dobson, isn’t that precisely what YOU do? You watch a Super Bowl halftime show starring Jennifer Lopez and “just know” that it’s harming those poor, impressionable kids who were really there just to watch a football game. In whose reality is this true? Only yours, sir, and when you work to make that vision real, you remove any opportunity for adults to talk with their children, which appears to be something you’d rather do for them.

The Sanctity of Human Life — Here, Dr. Dobson trudges out the tried and true. Using the worst possible statistic — that more than 60 million “babies” have been murdered since Roe v. Wade in 1973 — Dobson et al continue with the hypocrisy of describing themselves as “Pro-Life”.

“This is the most tragic holocaust in the history of the world! Some states have even passed laws allowing wounded and suffering infants to lie alone on porcelain trays after somehow surviving unsuccessful abortions. They will die without the comfort of their mothers’ breasts. If that doesn’t touch your heart, you are without compassion. I hope you will not cast a single vote for any politician who supports such wickedness.”

I’m so tired of this worn out piece of propaganda, mostly because it’s been used to vilify a great number of good people who didn’t and don’t deserve it. Moreover, to use this narrative to hook followers by calling pro-choice people “pro-abortion” is all the evidence I need as a human being to question the motives here. I mean, Dr. Dobson, God doesn’t need you to stretch the truth (there’s that darned 9th Commandment again) in order to advance your political agenda. This is a case where the evidence doesn’t justify the accusations, because the abortion rate has been shrinking to the point where it’s BELOW the rate when Roe v. Wade was originally passed. Dobson and his cronies are stuck in the 1980s, when their quest for political power first moved into high gear.

Marriage and Family — The divorce rate among Americans is dropping as younger people are deciding to wait for better financial security. You’d think this would be great news for people like Dobson, but it’s actually a threat. Remember the Shirky Principle, that institutions need to protect the problem for which they are the solution. And, this means despite the evidence. Dobson will never view marriage and divorce statistics through any lens other than the one he borrowed from Chicken Little.

“…listen carefully: powerful and highly funded forces, including LGBTQ and other leftist entities, are determined to destroy the family as an institution. It is already on its knees, and its future is grim. Before you vote, find out what position the candidates have taken on this issue. Then vote accordingly.”

Fear is always behind so-called Christian appeals for money. Oops. Sorry. I forget to tell you that this letter is also about fundraising.

Religious LibertyOMG, this is THE most disturbing issue of all, because it’s a sneaky bit of slight of hand. At its core, this argument is about raising the influence of James Dobson and the rest of his kind. What good is a religious approach to governing, if you don’t have the legal means necessary to accomplish it? Hence, of all the issues that Dobson touts, this one is THE most self-serving. What these people want is license to do as they please, regardless of the effect on anybody else. To even use the word Liberty in this euphemism is claptrap of the highest magnitude.

“The courts have done the greatest damage, but now an entire sub-culture is trying to bring down the Christian faith. Whether it has invaded your private world or not, it is at your front door…
…Don’t let the government close the doors of your church or tell you when you can sing praises to the Lord Almighty.”

Seriously, this man is deluded, but his prose is highly manipulative, like all the other propagandists who came before him. Religious Liberty is a fallacious “issue” because it’s really not an issue; it’s what these people need in order to pull off their overthrow of the U.S. Government.

Capitalism v. Socialism — Yeah right. How about we tag this euphemism for what it is: an appeal to greed and avarice versus loving your neighbor as yourself. Haven’t we learned by now that capitalism requires a governor, that it cannot be left to the extreme money-makers, because they will always default to profit? Even their philanthropy needs to be examined, because generosity at that level is more an annoyance and a tax write-off than it is genuine concern. Of course, there are exceptions, but those shouldn’t force us into the manipulation of people like Dr. James Dobson. Don’t listen to these convenient phrases, because they have no basis in truth but are a regular staple of extreme conservatism. And what comes after socialism? The great boogieman in the sky Communism. You’ll hear that this year.

“It is difficult to believe that for the first time in American history, our nation appears to be thinking about trading our democratic way of life for the tyranny of socialism. I can hardly catch my breath.”

Sorry, Doc, but you’re going to need more than your own words to prove this, because it’s simply untrue. It is, however, a convenient painting for the brushstrokes that he’s providing. The extreme religious right doesn’t have the chops to back up this piece of propaganda, but it matches so well with Republican Party tactics that it doesn’t matter to them, and especially to James Dobson.

Three other things. One, notice he uses the cover-your-ass words “appears to be.” Dead giveaway. Two, the 1% comprise a major chunk of Dobson’s operating revenue. Three, it’s simply evil to take study results and provide your own interpretation, as Dobson does with this sentence: “Is it true that up to 40 percent of millennials and others are prepared to surrender their liberties in exchange for the absolute authority of the state?” Sorry, folks, this guy’s own words convict him. Too slick. Too sleazy.

The Judicial System — Here, Dr. Dobson gets to the heart of the whole matter, his absolute justification for voting for four more years of the Trump holocaust. The extreme righties demand a Supreme Court that does their bidding, so they’ve created this straw man to force their interpretations of how our judicial system works onto the public and hopefully force their way into our business.

“But again, and again, they have overstepped their authority and brought us atrocities such as abortion on demand, same-sex marriage, and the so-called “separation of church and state,” which doesn’t appear in the Constitution.”

Finally, I know these people. They will never stop at a conservative majority, because they want to force their beliefs and practices on everybody else. Abortion, after all, isn’t really about killing babies; it has always been and will remain a form of birth control to them. And, if you think about it seriously, you’ll realize it’s really all about sex. They have a very rigid formula for sex and birth control, so don’t be fooled. This is why they so steadfastly argue for judges who “don’t make law,” whether it’s necessary or not. All they want is THEIR way.

The Nation of Israel - I’m glad Dobson saved this one for last, because it’s personal for me. The United States GIVES Israel $1,000,000 every single day, holidays and weekends included, without any strings attached, only that it be used for defense. Against whom? They are already THE malicious bully in the Middle East, killing grown ups and children with impunity in their quest to claim all the land from the Jordan River to the sea. The Israelis are masters at propaganda, and American ears hear only that.

“Scripture tells that those who bless Israel will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Our prayer is that the next Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. will continue to promote and cultivate a vibrant bond of friendship with the nation of Israel, which is our only ally in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism and all forms of racial discrimination are inherently evil, and we condemn them categorically. We are a nation that is dedicated to ‘freedom and justice for all’ ”.

Into this apartheid political mess in the Middle East come the Christians with their love of Holy Land Tours and admonitions from their leaders that Israel can basically do no wrong, because GOD is with them permanently and in perpetuity. Really? My son-in-law was among the Palestinian people forced to relocate to Jordan by the Israelis in 1967. His views are so much more believable than the stuff that flows in church about Zionist Israel. And, of course, they wield the antisemitism label without challenge, so as to silence their critics. A million dollars a day. Imagine what we could do at home with that money. And, then there’s this “only ally” assertion. If the political situation was different, do you honestly think the Arabs wouldn’t do business with us?

There’s also the regular criticism of Islam as an “enemy” of America. We should instead be asking, “Why are these people so angry?” That presupposes, of course, that we can get past the propaganda of the oil industry to actually consider it.

All of these “faithful” men and women are overcome with a thirst for power under the sun, and if I can reference Ecclesiastes, that is only vanity. It’s a temporal power, but one these people believe they are owed by their dedication to what feels to them like a righteous calling.

It’s all bullshit! And, here’s my summary. Vote for the candidate you think deserves your vote, hopefully for one that will relieve us of this unrelenting nightmare. There’s serious blood on your hands if you don’t.

Editor’s note: I got all the way through this without once mentioning Fox News. Aren’t you proud of me?

Deconstructing the Sacrosanct Faith of Others

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

One afternoon while working at my desk overlooking the campus of the Christian Broadcasting Network, one of our 700 Club story producers knocked and asked if he could borrow a camera. He wanted to have one of our Vice Presidents interview him about his hand. This fellow had lost one of his fingers to an accident in the past, and he had spoken with this VP about God and his missing finger. They agreed such an interview would be useful to have in order to document the missing finger. You see, he wanted it on hand to use when God grew the finger back, because he “believed” that was God’s plan for him, or at least that it might be.

This may seem laughable to some, but it was seen as a reflection of the reporter’s faith, and questioning someone else’s faith was tantamount to a great evil among Christians of a certain variety. After all, the warning is there in Matthew 18:6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (NKJV)

I saw this reflected in letters Pat had sent to some questioning viewers. He used it to “edit” the program. For example, we were guided not to show fat people on-the-air, because it might lead others into sin. I saw it in the horrifying letter I received from a man in Pennsylvania — a member of a faith community — whose 10-year old daughter had died from cancer (because they wouldn’t take her to a doctor). Worse, he told me, than her death and suffering was the abandonment she felt from God, because everybody on The 700 Club got healed, so why not her?

I’ve written before that this letter was a major influence on my decision to first leave CBN and go back into local news. I couldn’t argue with our position on faith — it was an unspoken pall that existed just above the surface of every facet of CBN and the ministry of Pat Robertson. If somebody else believed, who were we to question it? It was our justification for reading “praise reports” on the air as they came in via phone calls from our counseling center without verification. It was to inspire people to great faith, even though roughly 9 of 10 of these praise reports were completely false. Who cares if they’re simply “claiming” a blessing ahead of time? It’s THEIR faith, and we cannot question it.

Yes, we are to never, ever challenge the faith of another believer, even if their claim is far beyond the rational. After all, it wouldn’t be “faith” if it was rational, right? After all, anything’s possible with God, right? And their claim must be held sacrosanct, for it’s a terrible sin to interfere with another person’s faith. Besides, we have laws against intolerable behavior towards another person’s faith. That’s in the first amendment, right? The actual word is religion, and faith can mean that, too.

So what IS this thing called “faith” anyway? I believe that it’s the evidence of a life in Christ, which is natural, a life lived in the moment, absent the anger and resentments of the past and the fear and anxiety of the future. This is the subject of my newest unpublished book, Life on Life’s Terms: The Remarkable Secrets of People of the Moment. I feel so strongly about this that it has become a regular part of my study.

Common phrases like these all speak to faith as what one “believes”: “I’m believin’ for a miracle — I’m believin’ for a new purse — I’m believin’ it’ll all be over soon — I believe I’m goin’ to Heaven — I believe in her — I believe that chair will still be there, when I get back — Y’all better believe that was God! — She believed all her life.” Therefore, is this thing called “faith” about what we believe? Many Christian teachings lead to that conclusion. There’s Hebrews 11.1 “Now faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see.” This entire chapter is a Biblical history lesson about faith, and the important thing to notice is that each involves an action.

There are many commentators with views on this subject. Here’s one:

The Bible says that faith gives substance to the things you hope for. In other words, faith brings those things into your life. … The basic definition of faith, according to the Bible, is simply believing in God’s goodness and believing that He rewards the people who seek after Him.

A lot of people would “Amen” such, but the Bible also teaches that belief isn’t faith unless it’s accompanied by some attached work or effort or assistance to the creation as a whole. Read James, people. What’s that you say? Luther called James ‘the epistle of straw’? It may be straw, but it’s still an Epistle, right? I mean, really. Who was Martin Luther anyway? I’m sorry. Nope. It’s not enough to just believe; one must be involved in some act associated with that belief in order to accurately call it faith.

This is best exemplified by an exchange between the disciples and Jesus found in Luke 17:5–10. It’s a familiar — but often misinterpreted — piece of scripture. It begins with the Disciples asking Jesus to “increase our faith.” This timeline follows the teachings in Matthew 18 about causing others to stumble. That’s important, because the disciples certainly didn’t wish to be in that category. Besides, they were human, and it’s reasonable to add a parenthetical phrase to their question (“Lord, increase our faith, so that we can do the things that you do”). Jesus understood their ego was involved in the question, so He responded with two parables.

The first was the mustard seed. “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you would tell this sycamore tree, ‘Be uprooted, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Nowhere in the Greek text is there a reference to the size of the seed. Hence, a tiny amount of faith has nothing to do with the question. It’s an all-or-nothing proposition. Jesus says, “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…” He tells them the mustard seed has faith — absolute faith absent the ability to say no — and if they had similar faith, they could toss mountains and trees into the sea. However, this is followed immediately by the parable of the unprofitable servant, which tells them that even with such a power, they (we) are all still absolutely nothing in comparison to God. This is a giant stumbling block for many believers who think that all they need is a tiny bit of faith in order to move mountains or get to Heaven. Nonsense. It’s also a powerful reminder of the price we’ve all paid for the fall.

(I'm reminded of Joni Mitchell singing, "We've got to get ourselves back to the garden.")

So, now let’s return to the initial question, “If somebody else believed, who were we to question it?”

Can you see how easy it would be to plant a suggestion in the mind of that believer, and for them to run with it? Take the average person’s daily struggle to get by, aided by faith that it’ll all work out in the end, no matter what. The church promises to give them hope through fellowship with other believers in such a way that it internally validates this person’s beliefs. “I’m among others who believe,” is a comforting justification for going along with the group. Add to this the heresy that God wants his children to prosper in every way between the present and Heaven’s gate, and there’s little others can do — no matter how much love they give — to help this person understand the self-centered nature of their thinking.

This person — and a great many others just like them — needs to have their faith challenged, not embraced as fresh meat for the grinder of religion. Religion needs fresh meat, because every believer that dies of old age means a loss to that place of worship, especially in terms of resources.

Today, the church has been swept up in the same lies that the ego has been preaching for centuries, that the culture can be theirs, if they’ll only bow down and worship their own ability to pull it off.

These people believe THEIR faith is enough to view Donald Trump as King Cyrus from the Bible. Cyrus was a reprobate foreign king that God used to send the jews home after years of captivity, and these Christian groups who supported Trump believe that they could simply speak this preposterous comparison into existence. Such is the license granted to anyone who cites religion as their motivation to manipulate the public square. It doesn’t have to be true — in fact, in many ways it’s better that it not be true. It simply needs to be stated as a statement of faith, something they’ve been taught not to question.

The true extent of the evil in our presence today won’t be known for at least a generation, and it’s because this idea of “believing faith” has deep roots within my generation and older. I call on young people everywhere to challenge their own assumptions vis-à-vis what it means to be a person of faith. There is an incomparable hope to those people who live in the moment and surrender to life on life’s terms.

That’s what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.